Its funny that when I entered the SCEE Seminar Hall at 10:30 it was bathed in eerie silence like that in the void of space. But not for long. Soon the room was booming with the voice of ASCE representative Ali Zameer who briefed the teams on the rules of the space shelter building round. They were provided with scissors, paper, coloured sheets, paper plates and plastic cups, cardboard and glue. No outside material was allowed but tools like screw drivers or box cutters that teams had brought with them were allowed (more on that later).
The teams were called off to their allocated spaces and began their voyage to the inhospitable terrain of Mars. The building contest didn’t just concentrate on the strength of the structure and its design. There were other things on the surface of Mars that needed to be addressed. The red planet has intense dust storms, one third the gravity of earth, lack of oxygen, and freezing and scorching temperatures as well.
“Yaar paani tou de do!”
All these things needed to be taken care of for the judges to SCRUTINIZE the event entries. “Yaani Saadi tou band Baj jaani ae Mirreekh pe”
By lunch time (1:00 pm) the teams’ structures had began to take visible form. A few looked inspired from the Star Wars Universe while team “Mars Stars” looked to be taking their cues from the Justice Tower in the Justice League animated series. Others had heavy influences from Interstellar and some were so unique I had no idea what they were building. They probably prepared for the competitions the way we study for our OHTs, at the last moment.
I began asking the teams what they were going for; what they intended to build. Some were guarded; they didn’t give me any clue even though I told them I was from the NSS and not even a participant. Team “Connect it” also seemed guarded when I asked them what they took as the inspiration for their space station but then one of their members exclaimed
“Jo nazar aaya hai saara chaap liya hai”
Team “Aquifers” were focusing more on the aesthetic than the robustness it seemed; using red, green and purple paper. One of their members apparently had too many concerns about the design which led his fellow member to say
“Cheemay Mat Ro!”
Although, their structure did bear a strange resemblance to the star of David (yahoodi sazish anyone?)
Team Curiosity had already started making money from their enterprise. Since no one else had a box cutter to cut the cardboard provided for the shelter, any one in need of it could take it for 20 rupees per minute provided they pay 50% in advance.
“Jaldi waapas karna!”
-Team Curiosity to Team Aquifer
Entrepreneurship at it’s best. #pakistanijugaar
The War Hawks looked like they were building a war bunker and Team Boys with Toys had a sort of aquarium-like building in process.
Team Kakashi was-
“Wait what does that mean?”
“In what language?”
No wonder their structure looked like a Pokemon Gym.
Next came the presentations in front of the judges. The judges were Structural Engineer Wasim Khaliq, Environmental Engineering and Aesthetics Specialist Sana Khan and MBA Asad Hanif. It would be fair to say that the participants were thoroughly grilled. So much so that when the “Swaggers” were asked whether what they had designed was a production facility, one of them replied:
‘hum reproduction kareinge’
Teams experimented with establishing a garden of sorts to produce oxygen, using solar panels and wind turbines for energy (team “Connect It” and “Curiosity”), 3D printed facilities (Team “Kakashi”), the process of terraforming (Team “Mars Stars”), oxygen absorbing crystals (Team “War Hawks”) and magnetizing Mars’ surface to account for the low gravity (Team “Aquifers”).
“Judge Waseem Khalid: Why don’t you use magnetism on Earth?
Team Aquifer: Sir Allah Ta’ala ne waise hi 9.8 kia hua hai, hamein kya zuroorat pari hai magnetize karne ki?”
Following a small interactive session after the presentations during which the participants were asked who they thought had won,
-most of the people who were asked
the winners were announced by Umar Alamgir, President ASCE.
RUNNERS UP: Mars Stars
WINNERS: Boys with Toys
The judges were also awarded plaques at the end.
By Yousuf Mehmood